Lokator Pitching Target Overview

Posted on January 01, 2014 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments
Go Zone

The Go Zone 1/2/3 is Green to represent Passage.  Use the Go Zone to get ahead in the count 0-1. If you don't get ahead, the hitter can narrow down pitch possibilities and expect a fastball. They can wait for one pitch in one Lokation while in hitter's counts (1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1).

When you can throw an off-speed pitch in the Go Zone the hitter has to respect strikes with different speeds and movement. When a hitter knows you cannot command anything other than a fastball, they sit on the velocity and movement of a fastball. Then their averages and power increase because they have good timing on the pitch while expecting it.

Anytime you are changing speeds in the Go Zone on consecutive pitches, your chances of disrupting the hitter’s timing are better. The more pitches a hitter sees with the same speed and Lokation, the easier it is for him to time the pitch and drive it. If they consistently see fastballs while in hitters counts then they will expect the fastball and timing will be better.

Chase Zone 4
The 4 Zone is black to represent the bottom edge of the strike-zone and runs a close second in importance to the Go Zone. It is the most important edge of the strike-zone to command and is crucial to your success to miss down. If you're trying to throw a strike low in the Go Zone and you miss, you want to miss in the 4 Zone or below. It will be less likely to get hit hard and have a better chance of getting an out.

The 4 Chase Zone guarantees a downhill plane with any pitch you throw. Hitter's rarely hit pitches in the 4 Zone for extra bases. It is almost as important to miss in the correct Zones as it is to hit desired Zones. The name of the game in pitching is damage control.

Chase Zone 5/6
The Chase Zones 5 and 6 are black to represent the right and left edges of the strike-zone. Use the Chase Zones when the hitter is aggressive, which generally means they are behind in the count 0-1, 0-2 or 1-2. It's a borderline strike but too close for the hitter to take with two strikes. Even if the hitter decides to swing and makes contact on a pitch in a Chase Zone, generally they will not drive the pitch for extra base-hits or home runs. If they do not decide to swing, it is a perfect strikeout Lokation.

When facing a hitter that is not disciplined at the plate and likes to swing at everything, target the Chase Zones earlier in the count. There is no reason to throw a pitch down the middle of the plate if the hitter is willing to swing at Chase pitches in any count. One of the biggest parts of scouting reports is to know which hitters are impatient.

Purpose Zones 7/8
The Purpose Zones 7/8 are yellow to represent caution and designed to move the hitter off the plate. Once they back off, a bigger percentage of the outer-half of the plate becomes available, making your off-speed more effective. Without the purpose pitch the hitters get too comfortable. It's your job to keep them as uncomfortable as possible! Hitting the Purpose Zones and changing speeds in the Go Zone during sequences makes it harder for the hitter to time the pitch.

The arm-side Purpose Zone is a good place to aim a bigger breaking ball for the pitch to end in the Go or Chase Zone. Usually the slower the breaking pitch is, the bigger the break it has. Aim at the arm-side Purpose number from the mound if you have a bigger and earlier break on the curveball. This bigger breaking ball for a strike has also been called the "get me over" curveball.

Freeze Zones 9/10
The Freeze Zones are blue to represent the hitter being frozen or locked up. It's a huge advantage to execute off-speed pitches in the Go Zone. Older pitchers should focus on the change up and breaking ball while younger pitchers should stick with the change up only. Once you've proven you can command the Go Zone with off-speed early in the count, the Freeze Zones 9/10 open for the fastball while ahead in the count with two strikes. This is called pitching backwards.

The arm-side Freeze Zone is a good target to aim a shorter breaking ball for the pitch the end up in the Go Zone or Chase Zones. Understand how much your breaking ball moves when deciding where to aim. If you want to throw a short tight breaking ball in the 4 Zone or below then start the pitch in the Go Zone. Freeze Zones are also good targets to hit when you are attempting to jam the hitter. It takes very quick hands and a good swing to hit an inside Freeze Pitch and keep it fair.

Danger Zone
The red Danger Zone represents playing with fire as a pitcher.  Pitches in the Danger Zone have a flat plane and are better known as "hanging" pitches. This enables the hitter to recognize and react faster and raises batting averages and power numbers. It is much better to throw a borderline strike in the 4 Zone than a guaranteed strike in the Danger Zone.

If you're throwing a fastball behind in the count, the Freeze Zones turn to Danger Zones. Generally if the hitter is expecting a fastball, the flat planed pitch is more dangerous than when you're ahead in the count. But when the hitter is behind, they can't expect a fastball, opening up the Freeze Zones. It is much easier for the hitter to match their bat plane with the plane of the pitch when it is in the Danger Zone.

Over Zone
The red area from approximately the hitters waist to shoulders is called the Over Zone or the O Zone. It is generally dangerous when your behind in the count and with off speed pitches but can be used effectively to change the hitter's eye level and timing with fastballs.It is better to practice aiming at the top half of the O Zone around the hitter's chest. This is one of the few instances where it can be dangerous to miss down. 4 seam Fastballs are the most common pitch used for the O Zone.

Off speed pitches in the Go or Chase Zones will generally be more effective if the hitter has seen a fastball in the O Zone. It can also be an effective pitch against hitters who have slow bat speed or like to swing at high fastballs. The opposite of high-and-hard is low-and-slow. Using this sequence is an example of changing speeds and Lokations on consecutive pitches to disrupt the hitter’s timing. It can also be called speeding up the hitter's bat.

Under Zone

The grey area under the Chase Zones (4, 5, 6) and the Purpose Zones (7, 8) is called the Under Zone or the U Zone. It shares many of the same qualities as the Chase Zone 4 other than you will rarely get a called strike call from it. When a hitter sees a fastball in the Go Zone they recognize what the pitch looks like while the ball is in flight. If you can follow that fastball with an off speed pitch starting in the same spot of the Go Zone, the hitter will be more likely to swing after tracking the flight of the previous Go Zone fastball.

Whether or not you use a breaking ball or a change up, the off speed pitch starting in the Go Zone will most likely end up in the U Zone instead of Go Zone, making the pitch more likely to be swung at. To get swinging strikes in the U Zone it is crucial to command the Go Zone with your fastball. Hitters who have trouble with the breaking ball are very good candidates to fish for the curveball or slider in the Under Zone, especially when they are behind in the count looking to protect the plate.

Use the Lokator to visualize Zones during games. Communicate with coaches and catchers about pitch sequencing and your game plan by using numbers associated with the spots you want to hit. Use the Lokator in practice to work pitch command and to call pitches in game situations. Use the pre-made bullpen pitch sequences in the free Lokator Bullpen App to ensure getting the most out of your time and effort. Then, when game day comes, you will know that you've put in all the preparation and hard work it takes to be a successful pitcher.




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K Zones

Posted on April 12, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

The K Zones represent a true pitcher's pitch and obviously stand for a strike or a strikeout.  When the hitter is behind in the count they will expand their strike-zone to the Chase Zones and especially the corners of all three Chase Zones.  Hitting the K Zones make it even less likely the hitter will make contact if the pitch is swung at.  If the hitter does make contact, the possibility of them hitting it solidly is small.  

Commanding the K Zone doesn't rule out the possibility of a called strike if the umpire is in rhythm with the pitcher or has a generous strike-zone. If the catcher sets his target at the K Zone and you hit it, the chances for a called strike are much better. If the catcher is set up in the middle of the plate or on the opposite side and has to reach across the plate to catch the pitch in the K Zone, the umpire is less likely to call the strike.

The K Zone can be targeted for

  • Strikeouts in 0-2, 1-2 or 2-2 counts.
  • Fastballs Ahead in the Count
  • Off Speed Ahead in the Count 
  • Ground Balls
  • Impatient Hitters
  • First Base Open

When throwing a short breaking ball to the opposite arm-side K Zone you should generally aim the ball in the Danger Zone above the 2-Zone.  This will give the hitter the illusion that the pitch is hittable and in the heart of the plate while they are in an aggressive mode.  If the pitch has good tilt and depth it will break from the Danger Zone to the K Zone. This will make the hitter more likely to chase the pitch because the ball starts in the middle of the plate when the hitter is deciding whether to swing and breaks towards the K after the hitter has started their swing.

It is important to know how much you're breaking ball will break before initially aiming the pitch. If you throw a slider with a tighter, shorter break, you might start the pitch in the Danger when commanding the K Zone. If you throw a shorter curveball with more tilt and break then start the ball at a Freeze Zone to command the opposite arm side K Zone. A cut fastball may require you to start the pitch in the outer Go Zone for it to end up in the K Zone.  Understand how much your breaking pitches move so you can aim accordingly.

Generally arm side change ups that end in the K Zone are spending time on the plate in the Go Zone in flight.  This effect will entice swings from the hitter.  Change ups that end in the opposite arm side K Zone normally start out in the opposite side Purpose Zone before breaking back towards the K Zone and hitter's are not as likely to swing.    

Fastballs in the K Zone are very effective ahead in the count.  A fastball in the K Zone could be a two or four-seam chase fastball away from a hitter or a  two-seam fastball inside to the hitter.  Practice using the 2 seam fastball on both sides of the plate. 

In a double-play situation, a two-seam fastball could be thrown at the arm side third of the Go Zone and break to the K Zone after the hitter has already decided to swing. When throwing a two-seam fastball opposite arm-side, backspin is crucial to promote downward movement.  If the catcher's glove is set up in the K Zone and you hit the mitt, you have a great chance to get the strike call even if the hitter doesn't swing  

Hitters sometimes hit inside sinking fastballs at the K on the top of their foot or the inside of their ankle.  If this happens the last thing a hitter wants to see on the next pitch is the same pitch in the same spot.  Keep this in mind when a facing a hitter who fouls one off their lower body.  After two consecutive pitches in there they are set up for something in the outer Go or Chase Zone.

While ahead in the count and throwing a shorter, tighter, breaking ball, the pitch should generally start in the Danger Zone above the 2 Zone and break towards the K Zone.  Where to aim always depends on the size of the break on the off speed pitch.  

The K Zone is a great “backdoor curveball” Lokation.  This is typically a slower type breaking pitch that is thrown from a RHP to a LHB or vice versa.  This breaking ball is designed to end up on the outer part of the plate to the hitter and seemingly break around the strike-zone.  It's typically a slower breaking pitch has more break and has a better chance to start high and far enough outside of the strike-zone for the hitter to make the decision not to swing (give up) early in the flight of the ball.  Then it breaks over the outer Go or Chase Zone late in flight.

A change up in the K Zone should generally start in the outer-third of the Go Zone through the first half of the ball’s flight, and when the hitter has to make the decision to swing, the movement of the pitch will take it to the K Zone. Backspin, gravity, and natural movement will help the pitch break to the K Zone.

The K Zone can also be used opposite arm-side with the change-up although it is an advanced pitch and much harder to execute. Backspin is very important because a change-up with sidespin opposite arm-side can end up flat and in the middle of the plate just as the fastball will.

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